Updates

Oct. 13th, 2014 02:38 pm
brdgt: (Mrs. Robinson Closer)
The Move: We've booked a moving truck (even with gas for the truck and the car this was still the cheapest option and at least we'll have our stuff right away), are about to sign a lease on a 3 bedroom apartment in Albany (wood floors, pantry, dishwasher, front porch, built ins, good neighborhood, previous tenant was there 9 years), and have started packing things up here.

Work: Sent my latest chapter off to my advisor and it was returned with reasonable edits (I'm very happy with this one, it's a turning point in the dissertation's argument) and my boss is very sad to see me go at Ancestry. One of the things I've enjoyed about that job is the performance monitoring they do - you can check your productivity daily and compare it to your squad, team, shift, and other shifts. Unlike grad school, which leaves you constantly wondering how you are doing, I know that I am one of their top performing workers (images per hour, QC disagreements, amount of time actively working in programs), even after only 90 days on the job.

Utah: Last weekend we went down to Arches again and did a backcountry trip in Canyonlands. Nick's old roommate had flown out to go with us and it was a little bit of an adjustment for him to do desert hiking (no peak to conquer or even trail to stick to - just explore!) but I think he ended up really enjoying it and appreciating nature more than he usually does camping. (It was also sort of funny to realize I am now in better shape than Jason, when he kept trailing behind us. Back in Yellowstone a few years back I was always the last person up the hill)

Jason imitating Edward Abbey:
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Taking our packs off for a few minutes - about to descend into the Canyonlands - our destination is that bend in the river behind us, about a 21 miles round trip. It was nice to have a third person around to take photos of the two of us!
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The descent mostly occurred here, at this rock slide (looking back up it). We descended 995' in .95 miles over dozens of switchbacks. Gorgeous views.
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Looking back at where we had descended.
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Taking a break on the way back up, with a view of Airport Tower and our hiking buddy. <3 Utah.
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brdgt: (Mrs. Robinson Closer)
On Sunday we woke up before dawn to drive down to Mount Timpanogos, the second highest peak in the Wasatch mountains (11,752'). We saw moose, a ptarmigan, mountain goats, pika, and llamas! It was a long day and my legs and feet were sore the next day, but, despite the elevation, it wasn't nearly as hard as Olympus or Pfeifferhorn.

The hike starts overlooking meadows, but you start to go up a "Grand Staircase" of plateaus. The autumnal colors were hard to capture, but really beautiful, as were the shadows the clouds made on the landscape all day.

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After climbing the "staricase" you reach the "basin." That is Timpanogos behind us. You ascend to the saddle on the right and then allong the back of the ridge, through a narrow pass in the first rise, then across the ridge to the last steep ascent.

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This is just after leaving the saddle, you can see the trail on the lower left. It was scary, but not as scary as it could be - at least it wasn't a straight drop off?

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Looking up toward the summit. There is a little hut at the top.

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Looking down from the summit on the Timpanogos glacier and Emerald Lake. Some people continue along the ridgeline and slide or ski down the glacier (when there is more snow). They are crazy people.

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We had a friend.

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On the way back down. We had plenty of time so we decided to check out Emerald Lake.

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Mountain Goats at Emerald Lake. They were introduced and have thrived up here.

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Sadly, there is not much left of the Timpanogos Glacier...

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On the way back we tried to find the 1955 wreckage of a B-25 bomber, but only found the best restroom view on earth.

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We got back to the trailhead at 7:30pm, after 12 hours of hiking, close to 20 miles, and over 4,000' elevation gain. It was probably the most scenic hike we've done here, especially the variety of scenery over the course of the hike. This was also our highest peak yet and the altitude sickness wasn't nearly as bad as I've had at lower elevations, so I think I'm finally adjusting - just in time for a trip to King's Peak (13,528') this weekend with our neighbors! It's the highest peak in Utah, and, alledgedly the hardest non-technical state high point in the United States. 
brdgt: (Mrs. Robinson Closer)
On Sunday we hiked the Pfeifferhorn - a 11,326' peak in Little Cottonwood Canyon that several people had recommended to us. It would be our highest peak yet.

We got to the trailhead at 9:30 AM and saw mostly trail runners on the way up. The trail is very steep after the first few miles - 2,000' elevation gain in 3 miles.

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The peak in the distance is the false peak we would have to summit before reaching the Pfeifferhorn.

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We had lunch at Red Pine Lake, where we watched a fly fisherman catch several fish and asked around about the trail up to Pfeifferhorn but only succeeded in finding out that no one knew anything other than it wasn't marked.

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Read more... )
brdgt: (Mrs. Robinson Closer)
When we drove back to Wisconsin last summer, after apartment hunting, we briefly stopped at Dinosaur National Monument and knew we had to go back - so that's what I asked for for my birthday :)

We left Thursday night and spent the first night at a campground near the Visitor Center - convenient to get started the next day. Sadly, the park rangers were not as useful with back country advice as we've experienced in the past, but we were able to put together a nice weekend, including several hikes, an amazing drive, and the best backcountry site you could ask for.

Seriously, when people say Zion is their favorite Utah national park I am starting to think they are oncrack.

The Mitten Park Fault - our view after we hiked out to a beach on the Green River:

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Happy campers:

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The view of the Mitten Park Fault and Steamboat Rock from 2,500 above. It's hard to tell, but the Yampa River (which you can see a little of in the center of the photo) is actually meeting the Green River (which you can see more clearly on the right side) behind Steamboat Rock, even though those rocks look continuous.

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Lots of abandoned (and not abandoned) ranches:

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Our campsite at Ruple Point. No complaining allowed:

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Split Mountain dominates the center of the park. The Green River splits the mountain (which is the far eastern edge of the Uintas - the highest east-west mountain range in the lower 48) in half lengthwise - so, you can see how each side would match up with each other by matching the geologic layers.

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Dinosaur National Monument is named for the massive Dinosaur quarry formed by a "log jam" of dinosaur bones that then fossilized and folded on it's side, preserving many specimens that are usually found flattened.
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There are also many Fremont Petroglyphs.

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This is the only place one can find Fremont lizard petroglyphs.

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Seriously, if you want beautiful scenery, quiet, space, and variety I highly suggest this gem. We are already planning our next trip there to see the northern side of the Green River and explore some slot canyons.

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brdgt: (Mrs. Robinson Closer)
After a night in probably the worst motel room ever, we returned to Arches to hike into the Petrified Dunes and backcountry camp for the night. The website and guidebooks discourage backcountry camping in Arches - it is a small park with limited backcountry areas and requires a lot of water - but once we talked to actual rangers they had tons of suggestions and we were so glad we basically pack our full backcountry gear everytime we go camping, so we had everything we needed.

If you check out this map, our destination was pretty much exactly where the pin is. This is my GPS watch's record of our first day (the battery died halfway through the second day - dream REI purchase? Solar panel charger). You can see where we tried to climb out of the canyon and wandered all over :)

We entered the canyons with the plan of going up the third one and seeing if we could climb out of it to camp for the night (no trail, only rules were camp on rock more than 300 feet from arch, water, and archaeology sites). The canyon was actually quite lush, with lots of water crossings and signs of beavers.

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About a mile in the canyon walls got much higher and we started taking breaks to scramble up them and explore.

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We resisted the urge to soak our feet in the water.

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Eventually we began to wonder how we were going to climb back out...

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Looking back toward the main canyon, from about halfway up the canyon wall:

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In our attempt to find our way up on top of the canyon we explored caves, shelves, and arches - did I mention there was no trail and not a sign of another human being - well except archaeologically speaking (we saw a campsite that was probably 200 years old)?

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This was as close as we got to the top - Nick went exploring and decided we had a 95% chance of making it. We decided it wasn't worth the risk, since the fall was over 200 feet.

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It helped that we had spotted a flat rock area at the bend in the canyon, so we knew we had an option for the night. Since we still had daylight - and we are completists - we went to the very end of the canyon and found an even better spot to camp. Desert camping - you may need to carry a lot of water (5 liters per person per day - heavy!), but no bears, bugs, or people? Heck, due to the canyon walls we were able to sleep in!

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On the way back out we took a slight higher route, enjoying the Spring wildflowers.

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26 hours later!

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We had a few hours of daylight left so we checked out Double Arch.

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Petroglyphs:

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And Delicate Arch.

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brdgt: (Mrs. Robinson Closer)
The weekend before I left for Chicago Nick and I went down to Arches and Canyonlands for the weekend. We left early on Friday hoping to get a first-come campsite, since everything in Moab is booked for ages, but after driving around for a few hours gave up. We booked a motel an hour away (did I mention there are only three towns between Provo and Moab - four and a half hours and three towns?) and spent the day at Arches doing "easy" hikes.

This trail had increasing difficulty - and boy did we take advantage of that...

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Our first Arch!

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La Sal Mountains.

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After losing the trail in one direction, we doubled back to Landscape Arch:

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Then attempted the trail in the other direction:

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Basically making our trip 9 miles instead of 4.

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But we saw lots of Arches :)

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brdgt: (Mrs. Robinson Closer)
1. Sadly, we had to reschedule our trip down to Arches and Canyonlands due to Nick's frisbee injury (cracked rib or torn muscle - just not getting better). Hiking would be fine, but sleeping on the hard ground might exacerbate it.

2. So instead, we are going to get some more work done (new chapter for me, second article for him) and take a break to see Jodorowsky's Dune at the local film society. Maybe a hike on Sunday out to one of the Great Salt Lake islands (Saturday is supposed to be rainy and gross).

3. I scored a great point in frisbee last night - diving catch of an upside down disc by the fingertips - best score of the game if I do say so myself :)

4. I think I might do some gardening today :)

5. I made a YouTube playlist of my half-marathon setlist:

brdgt: (Mrs. Robinson Closer)
The day after the race we went up to Ogden (which is apparently where Utah's rednecks live?) to do an easy hike up Waterfall Canyon. It is a pretty popular hike - lots of dogs (and one cat!), people doing the weirdest hiking things (bringing a radio to play music while hiking, eating McDonald's on the trail, and generally not following simple trail etiquette rules. That being said, it was a pretty hike with an impressive waterfall at the end.

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Working out those post-race calf cramps.

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The view down to Ogden and the Great Salt Lake. That poor black dog got sprayed by a skunk on the way up the trail (maybe you should keep your dog on a leash?)

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We were done by 4PM so we thought we'd do another hike while we were in the area, so we drove down to Adams Canyon. This area was much more alpine and shaded, with more waterfalls (though less impressive).

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The water was actually too high to see the final waterfall, but Nick tried to peak around the corner to see it.

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The weekend was rounded out by delicious foods (half price oysters and craft cocktails at a new bistro, followed by dinner at our neighborhood brewpub) and quality time together, including reading in the back yard.

Scenes

Apr. 14th, 2014 05:56 pm
brdgt: (Mrs. Robinson Closer)
Have I mentioned that our yard is lousy with trilobites?

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The hyacinths have switched over to tulips - I'm actually getting in the habit of cutting fresh flowers from our yard for inside the house - weird!

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Our next door neighbors (Oink's owners) took this great panoramic view from their roof - this is essentially my office view (actually, if you click on the image to make it bigger you can see my office window, it is the grey house on the far left - the two windows right next to each other):

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brdgt: (Mrs. Robinson Closer)
Yesterday we went for a hike up Grandeur Peak (8,294 ft with 2,829 ft of elevation gain in 5.82 miles and 3:43 hours). The trailhead is located very close to the city, in Millcreek Canyon and on the way up mostly offers views to the south, especially of Gobler's Knob.

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We had wanted a hike with some snow, which we got near the top.

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The view at the top was wonderful - I love the way the city goes right up to the mountain.

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You can see some rain over the Great Salt Lake, downtown, and even our neighborhood.

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Looking East at a reservoir.

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We had the peak to ourselves so we relied on the timer to take a photo :)

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Afterwards we went to the home opener of the Salt Lake City Lions (SLC's brand new Ultimate team). Of note, those were the mountains we were in as our game's backdrop.

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Modesty

Apr. 9th, 2014 09:56 am
brdgt: (Bag of Trouble by iconomicon)
Something I still find jarring about Utah, but must seem completely normal to folks here, is the modesty dress.

I'm not talking the cute stylish outfits of Mormon mommy bloggers - I'd wear those (actually, some of my style is pretty close to that...) or the FLDS prairie dress - but the women I see who take something that is immodest (a spaghetti strap tank top, a skirt above the knees) and just put something on under it (a plain white t-shirt, jeans). I just wonder - why buy that immodest thing to begin with? I was at the store you bought that top from the other day and it had some super cute cap sleeve shirts that would look better on you!

On the other hand, I suppose I feel like they do when they see someone dressing "immodestly."

In related news, I have [livejournal.com profile] loreofcure to thank for the tip on Joe Fresh jeans for a cheap option for the brightly colored jeans fad. See, this outfit is modest! And cute! And apparently I'm a size 4 :)

CAM00269
brdgt: (Mrs. Robinson Closer)
On our way down to Vegas we stopped at Zion. Our friend may have just started to get into hiking, but he is still used to eating every meal of the day out and having constant internet access, so he wanted to stay at a motel instead of camping. The next morning we had a healthy breakfast at a local cafe that also made us sandwiches for hiking (I had an amazing veggie/fruit/nut wrap). Due to the need to airlift out the toilets at Angel's Landing, we couldn't do that iconic hike, so we did a longer, more strenuous, higher elevation one - Observation Point. I'm glad we did, as it had more varied terrain.

The trail started with a steep ascent, but with well maintained switchbacks.

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And was directly across from Angel's Landing.

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After that ascent you enter Echo Canyon, my favorite spot on the hike.

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Then you start ascending again, with sharper and sharper switchbacks until you reach the mesa.

Zion

Lunch at the top (6508ft). Again, not very high by Utah standards, but southern Utah is a lower elevation than northern Utah, so the ascent was still over 2000 ft. gain.

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On the return the light in Echo Canyon was even nicer than on the way up.

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Visitor!

Feb. 23rd, 2014 02:15 pm
brdgt: (Mrs. Robinson Closer)
This week Nick's college roommate Greg came to visit. He was very excited to try the hiking, so we started off with The Living Room (followed by the Natural History Museum, since they share the same parking lot), which he did well on, so the next day I took him to Frary Peak on Antelope Island (Nick had a lot of work to do before our trip to Zion and Vegas).

The Peak is the highest point on the island, which is one of the islands in the Great Salt Lake. Due to it's protected nature and remoteness, it has herds of bison, bighorn sheep, deer, pronghorn sheep, and coyotes. We saw all of those except the sheep on the trip.

You know you are getting used to Utah when your guest sees this view and says "wow!" and you say "yeah, it's alright."

Frary Peak

The peak is only 6596 ft, but the island is at a quite low elevation, so that isn't low for out there. After about three miles of ascending around foothills you reach the false summit. You then descend the right side of the peak before ascending up again. The peak is in the distance.

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Near the top the ascent is very steep.

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The views were amazing though - 360 views of the area.

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On the way back the sunset made everything look different and wonderful.

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brdgt: (Smiling by ABM)
On Sunday I picked our weekly hike - Lake Blanche, an alpine lake within a glacial cirque in the shadow of Sundial Peak. The pollution has been bad, so we wanted some fresh air, but just hiking a peak for the view isn't a good option, since most views are blocked by the pollution. I heard about this hike on Fitocracy - the view is *up* to Sundial Peak and the snow pack was good enough that you didn't need snowshoes. I did pick up some YakTrak the day before and brought my hiking poles, neither of which were necessary, but definitely helped in expending less energy sliding on snow.

It was 34 degrees when we left the trail head, but with a 1,000 feet elevation gain per mile and walking straight into the sun in a cloudless sky, we were plenty warm.

Lake Blanche Trail

We went from following a canyon stream only slightly covered in ice (just muffling, but not completely hiding the sound of the water) to beautiful stands of birch trees.

Lake Blanche Trail

The trail was nicely packed, but the snow was several feet deep on either side - it was important to not step off.

Lake Blanche Trail

After the canyon and birch trees, we went through several rock slides and avalanche fields - the hike probably made easier by the snow. About 2.8 miles and 2,800 feet elevation gain we finally got to Sundial Peak.

Lake Blanche Trail


Sundial Peak

We had lunch and climbed a bit further up, so we could claim to have gone over 9,000 feet (Sundial Peak is only accessible with mountaineering gear and experience).

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Sundial Peak

You can see the view of Salt Lake City in the distance here - with the inversion covering the whole valley.

Inversion

On the way down we encountered quite a few backcountry skiers (why pay for lift tickets when you can climb a mountain and ski down it?) and two moose! No pictures of them, even though they were less than 30 feet away - camera was too cold, light was failing, and too many bushes.

Lake Blanche Trail

In the end, just over 6 1/2 miles, about 4 hours, 2,830 feet of elevation gain, two moose, and a great day - my first hike that was snow covered the whole time! And all just a 30 minute drive from our home :)
brdgt: (Mrs. Robinson Closer)
Last night we went to dinner and the opera - a much appreciated night out after weeks of austerity.

We had dinner at Bistro 222, which I picked for it's proximity to the theatre and it's small plate focused menu (easier to pay less). I ended up getting the paella because it had sturgeon, a fish I had never had before, and it was delicious. Nick got a delicious pizza with artisanal imported meats.

Sturgeon Paella

The opera was La Traviata - which was the first opera I ever saw, back in college at the Flynn Theatre in Burlington, VT (my honors program paid for all of us to go - it was a first for all of us and I'm sure it created many future patrons). Since then I think I have seen 10 more (Carmen, Aida, The Queen of Spades, La Boheme, Madama Butterfly, Don Pasquale, The Flying Dutchman, Faust, Lucia di Lammermore, and Don Giovanni)?

This performance was middling - Violetta was good and so was Alfredo's father, but the sets were very boring and the chorus and the orchestra too quiet. The Capitol Theatre is a smaller theatre, so all the seats are pretty good - this was our view:

La Traviata

But, of course, half of the fun of the opera is dressing up, especially in a dress that hasn't fit you in a few years :)

Top American Fashion Designer Michael Kors
brdgt: (Mrs. Robinson Closer)
Yesterday Nick and I hiked Battle Creek Falls, a short trail south of Salt Lake City. Given the recent snow we didn't want to do something with too much elevation gain and there were big wind gusts yesterday, making Antelope Island seem miserable. This was a pretty little hike, with a light snow and good company :)

The falls are at the base of Mount Timpanogos, the second highest peak in the Wasatch mountain range. Technically, you can climb the mountain from this trailhead, but it is described as a "dangerous, miserable, loose-scree climb."

As soon as we got off the highway we knew we weren't in Kansas anymore. It was a Sunday - not a single business was open. Not the Burger King, not even the supermarkets. We counted 9 churches in the ten mile drive to the trailhead from the highway - they were all packed. (Seriously, I was glad we had a full tank of gas and had packed sandwiches for lunch!) That being said, we encountered a few other people on the trail - to whom we wanted to challenge "why aren't you in church??"

Trailhead at the start of the canyon:
Battle Creek Falls

The frozen falls:

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A couple of guys were ice climbing this - they "hiked" up the rock on the left, rappelled down, then climbed up, and then came back the way the hiked up. The rappelling and climbing seemed the safest part of their endeavor.

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We hiked up until fording the stream seemed too risky (wet clothes for the rest of the hike? no thanks) and "had" to slide down parts of the trail on the way back.

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Looking West toward Utah Lake on the way back.

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The neighbors invited us over to watch football when we got back so we got to get to know them better and pet Oink before heading home to relax on the couch with season three of Breaking Bad. God, I hate Walter White.
brdgt: (Winter is coming by iconomicon)
Last night we drove up to Park City for the FIS Freestyle World Cup (the qualifiers for Aerial Skiing in the Olympics) with our friends Jen and Erik. Dan was also visiting on his way back from Portland for the Holidays (he is in my program in at Wisconsin and he and Jen entered the same year - she left with a terminal MA to finish her medical degree). This is from the parking lot at Deer Valley, with the mogul run lit up behind us.

FIS Freestyle World Cup

Said mogul run. Erik said "I'd try that" and Nick said "I'd die on that."

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One of the competitors:


This was a qualifier for Aerial Skiing in the Olympics next month and will air on NBC sports at 5:30 PM EST tomorrow. It was super fun - very different than anything else I'd done and really impressive athletes. For some reason I never thought of this before (I'm sure it was obvious to everyone else), but I now know why they use cowbells so much at skiing events - your hands have gloves on and don't make much noise clapping!
brdgt: (Winter is coming by iconomicon)
Reading:



I'm not usually a true crime or even decective or murder mystery person, but this is a book about a serial killer that operated near my hometown growing up. It's still unsolved, but two of the suspects lived in my trailer park growing up and I still remember the police surrounding their trailer, guns on the hoods of their cars, and, then later, my brother testifying in one of the trials. So far, I would say it is well written and portrays the area and people well.

Wearing: White Sweater, dark wash jeans, brown boots. We've had a fair bit of snow the past few days, so I am dressing accordingly.

1/10/2014

Planning: Tonight we are going to see the Freestyle Ski World Cup up in Park City with our friends Jen, Eric, and Dan!

We had talked about doing some hiking this weekend, but the recent snow makes trail finding a little hard. I'd still like to go out, so I'll read up on winter hikes in one of the hiking books I got for Christmas. I had initially thought of doing Frary Peak on Antelope Island, but we may just go out to Antelope Island and check it out instead of hiking the peak. Winter is supposed to be the best time to see the Bison, Bighorn Sheep, and other animals that thrive on the island.

And of course, the Patriots play tomorrow night :)

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